Scott positions the new Genius as the ultimate quiver killer. A big call perhaps, but it does present the rider with a multitude of potential options. If you’re struggling to determine which variant of the trail bike genre is for you, this is well worth a look.
The Genius has featured adjustable travel since its introduction and the platform has seen several innovative, if perhaps idiosyncratic, suspension and shock designs. The 2018 version also features adjustable travel, albeit in a package that is conservative yet progressive.
Scott’s latest design looks just like a ‘normal’ trail bike. There are no strange pull shocks and the rear end features a comfortingly familiar four-bar layout. But the conservative appearance belies a progressive, modern approach to geometry: The head angle is slacker at 65.6°; the seat angle steeper at 75.3°; chainstays are shorter at 436mm and the reach extends to a spacious 472mm. It’s not radical, but it’s certainly very contemporary, and longer and slacker than many of its competitors.
So how quiver killing can a 150mm trail bike be?
Across the range, all Genius frames are compatible with both 27.5” and 29” wheels, without changing the fork. Flipping a chip at the top of the linkage is all that’s required to switch. The chip maintains a consistent BB height, so you won’t be clipping pedals or compromising the handling if you do. Whether you choose a “7” or “9” prefixed model, you’ll be able to change wheel size any time you like. This Genius 720 uses 27.5” wheels.
The carbon frame is mated to an aluminium rear that offers substantial tyre clearance for either wheel size. Scott recommends 2.5” to 2.8”tyres when running 27.5” wheels and notably have ceased using the term “Plus”, simply considering wide tyres as standard.
In this updated suspension layout, a trunnion mounted shock has been inverted to allow Scott’s designers to sink it deep into the frame at the junction of the downtube and seat tube. This is extremely rigid and also helps keep mass down lower on the bike.
All the cables are internally routed and there are inserts and ports to aid fitting. Dropouts are 148 Boost and there’s a neat little Syncros chain guide and front fender included.
The other aspect of the Genius’ quiver killing potential is Scott’s TwinLoc system. TwinLoc allows travel, spring rate and damping to be adjusted from the handlebar. TwinLoc has three modes: Descend, Traction Control, and Lock. To achieve this, the Fox Nude shock features two air chambers. In Descend mode, both these chambers are open and the shock delivers the bike’s full 150mm of travel.
Traction Control mode closes one of the air chambers. The damping is automatically adjusted and the bike’s travel is limited to 110mm. Accordingly the bike’s ride height stays higher, delivering a more efficient position for climbing. Lock is not quite a lockout, but is certainly very firm.
Up front, there’s a Boost 110 Fox 34 Performance fork featuring the Evol air sleeve and a Grip damper which is connected to the TwinLoc lever on the bar.
Propulsion is provided by SRAM’s GX Eagle which performed superbly throughout the test. With a 32-tooth ring, the 500% range cassette never left us short, and shifting was immaculate every time. Stopping is via Shimano SLX brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear.
The 150mm drop Fox Transfer post is an excellent piece of kit. Its lever has been integrated into the TwinLoc system and sits above the bar with the TwinLoc levers below it, the whole unit acting as the left grip’s lock ring.
The post is topped with a Syncros saddle that looks and feels like it might be more at home on a time trial bike. I found it hard, uncomfortable and distinctly at odds with the bike’s ‘ride all day, ride anything’ intentions.
Meanwhile, a smart, 50mm Syncros stem clamps a 760mm wide bar. A large sized bike of this nature really ought to ship with a bar at least780mm, if not 800mm, wide. Not only is it too narrow, it lacks rise and upsweep and feels a little too low. I ended up overhanging the grips past the end of the bar to gain some extra width.
The whole outfit rolls on a Syncros TR2.5 wheelset with 30mm internal width rims which give a good profile to the 2.8” Maxxis Rekon tyres.
Climbing aboard, you find yourself looking down at a spaghetti bowl of cables; there are six, which added to my initially sceptical view of the bike. I’ve never previously seen the need for adjustable travel—the platform switch on most trail bikes does a pretty good job of tamingbob on climbs, but I set out with an open mind, willing to be persuaded.
Dropping into the first section of rooty corners, it wasn’t long before I was pleasantly surprised. Scott’s collaboration with Fox on the Nude shock and 34 Performance fork has definitely delivered the goods. In Descend mode, the bike feels supportive yet supple off the top, with no wallowing in the middle of the stroke, becoming increasingly progressive as you push into the travel. Fork and shock are extremely well balanced and, as a result, the tyres track the ground very well, giving a really planted feel to the ride. I’ve not encountered suspension that’s this sorted straight out of the box before. It’s really good.
The steering is neutral and it’s easy to flick the bike around. It’s not a burly, bruiser of a bike, more one that feels refined, composed and confident in a wide variety of terrain, tackling rocky, technical singletrack with aplomb and taking air as required. When pushed, the 2.8” Rekon tyres did not squirm or ping off rocks in the way that some Plus tyres have a reputation for, offering solid, predictable grip all the way.
Flicking the switch to Traction Control before heading back up the hill changes the attitude of the bike. Most 150mm bikes go uphill happily enough, but in Traction mode the Genius is more eager than most and climbs comfortably yet urgently. The bike’s suspension is firmer and the ride height taller, making for a noticeable difference, especially on longer climbs. A second pleasant surprise. The TwinLoc system is nogimmick and very effective in action.
Is it really a quiver killer? If your quiver includes a long travel bike with a dual crown fork, this isn’t going to kill it—but if you can’t decide on a longer or shorter travel trail bike, 29” or 27.5” wheels, and want to be able to take advantage of wider (don’t call ‘em “Plus”) tyres, the Genius is a great option. Definitely not a halfway house of any sort, this is a really well-sorted trail bike with superbly tuned suspension. The geometry is right up to date, it handles brilliantly and features some innovative technology that really works.
Is it perfect? Not quite. I still wince at the bird’s nest of cables when I look down, the bar is too narrow, the seat uncomfortable and there’s a persistent rattle coming from the plastic cover of the TwinLoc lever. Otherwise I loved riding the Genius and would highly recommend it. Throw on your favourite handlebar and saddle and go ride!